Tag: student research assistants

alumniCarroll ReflectionsCurious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsWriting

Why Write?

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At the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year I indicated to my Chair, Dean, and Provost that I wanted to write a lot this year—especially with students.  I reaffirmed that intention (to an international audience!) in an individual learning plan I was “required” to share while participating in Jane Hart’s “Supporting Everyday Workplace Learning” workshop. david-simpsons-individual-learning-plan

I shared eight lessons that I learned in that workshop with my LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, and WordPress audiences in this blog piece.

Three individuals have had a major influence on my writing since my joining the Carroll community in 1978. Carroll colleague Jim Vopat taught a course entitled “Why Write” that I had an opportunity to visit.Thank you, Jim Vopat, for giving me direction.

An influential present Carroll colleague BJ Best continues to successfully engage students in writing both by regularly modeling it and by the creation of an online, student-centered journal, Portage Magazine.  Thank you, BJ, for all you have shared—including students eager to learn. I can’t wait to entwine myself in the writing of that long threatened promised adventure stories about David in Carroll-Land.

For the past decade I have followed with interest and admiration the blogging and developments in thinking of Jane Hart about uses of technology tools to enhance learning.  Motivated by her initial contributions, I created a first-year seminar course based on her top twenty-five tools. More recently, my students have begun writing and publishing books about the learning tools they found of most value. We are in the process of seeking financial support to expand that effort. Thank you, Jane Hart, for your fellowship, mentorship, and friendship across the ocean.

My introduction to blogging tools reinvigorated my personal interest in writing.  It enhanced my judgment of the importance and value of including writing exercises in my classes. I am convinced that properly taught, introduced and regularly used, blogging and micro-blogging tools can enhance a student’s civic responsibilities (e.g. writing a thoughtful response to a New York Times online article or to a local paper—rather than merely clicking the “like” button). They can be used to improve students’ writing and enjoyment of writing, and can expand their knowledge about “publishing” and making the blogosphere and the world a better place.

Curious David

A Benevolent Curmudgeon Reflects Some More on LinkedIn: Revised and Revisited

 

David (AKA The Benevolent Curmudgeon):

dscn4331In several prior posts about my experiences with LinkedIn, I have pondered and sought advice about how  I —with one foot in academe and the other in the business world—might most profit from and contribute to LinkedIn. Thanks to those of you who have made constructive suggestions. Since those postings, I have joined several linked in groups.  I have explored many of LinkedIn’s (continually evolving) premium features such as “learning”( aka Lynda.com). I have examined the usefulness of SlideShare (here is an example of its value in a recent posting there by Jane Hart). I have participated in some LinkedIn surveys of the “LinkedIn Premium Insiders Community” (and found them far too generic).

Which of these features do you use? Which features have I failed to discover? How do you keep up with a constantly changing interface? I realize that one way to answer these questions is for me to systematically go through all menus (especially the privacy controls).

To be fair, I have benefitted by selectively and systematically expanding my network.  I have discovered a few “Influencers” worth my following and learning from. I have also learned how to subscribe to RSS feeds which enhance my personal learning plan. I have  explored using hashtags for my postings, and I am making more time to read and to respond thoughtfully to a number of thoughtful posts and comments (far too many comments are snarky but that is opportunity cost).

I have found particularly enlightening the good work of Maya Pope-Chappell, Education and Millennial Editor of LinkedIn. She writes well, has championed efforts to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas from higher education and the business world and has increased opportunities (and recognition) for involvement by college students. [See, for example, her screencast targeted for college and university students about how to write for LinkedIn]. I urge that “older” (more experienced) LinkedIn users recognize that this incoming work force can serve a valuable mentoring function for you if you tap into their knowledge of how to use social learning tools to supplement or to replace more formal, traditional formal training programs.

Things I dislike about LinkedIn:

  • I still find the “post publishing platform” primitive and user-unfriendly. It is far inferior and far less intuitive to that of WordPress (though far superior to Yammer’s). My work-around has been to write LinkedIn blog pieces targeted for a LinkedIn audience on another platform and then migrate them into the LinkedIn editor after proof-reading.
  • I find many of the articles posted in LinkedIn far two “formulaic” for my taste: Promises of THE “seven”proven ways to increase my (fill in the buzzword). [I’ve ranted written about my love distaste  thoughts about “buzzwords” here and here.] I prefer substance to platitudes or bullet-points (but that may be due to the academic world I inhabit).
  • I get annoyed by my inability to read some articles  unless I turn off my ad blockers, “white list” the target website, or switch to another computer for which I have not turned on ad-blockers.

What suggestions do you have that might enhance the value of LinkedIn to me? Or, (as some have suggested) do am I a stranger in a strange land and I not belong on this network?

For a refreshingly “non peevish” take on LinkedIn, I invited about a year ago one of my research assistants, Alison Lehman who is quite knowledgable about LinkedIn (she wrote about it in her first book) to share her perspectives about it. Even as she approaches the time of her university graduation in May of 2017, she is most enthusiastic about it. I continue to learn from her!

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Alison wrote …

“Rapidly growing and expanding, LinkedIn is an online, social networking site for individuals to connect with other professionals and post their professional accomplishments, experiences, and volunteer activities. With the technological advances that exist today, employers are not only looking at an individual’s hard copy resume but they are also turning to LinkedIn to put a face to the name, as well as seeing how the individual presents themselves online. LinkedIn is an interactive website to compile education history, past experiences, skills, interests, completed projects, and various other professional expertise; pretty much an online resume for others to see. With connecting and providing experiences, this opens the door to future jobs and valuable professional relationships. Creating a LinkedIn profile can help grow connections in the business world and displays qualifications and experience for jobs.

Getting Started:

To create a LinkedIn profile, an individual can go to the LinkedIn website and create their profile with an email address and password. An individual is then prompted to insert information about themselves, such as a brief autobiography, past education experience, and professional work history. Additionally, information can be entered about volunteer experiences or  organizations’ they care about, institutions they are affiliated with, certifications received, and a list of personal skills. LinkedIn will then organize all of the information into an organized profile page. The user can customize where each section of information will fall (e.g. either at the top of the profile or farther down). Other individuals can also endorse the skills you have listed on your profile. This feature is a quick way for connections to validate that the individual is well qualified in the skills they have listed.

Users are able to create an online profile with as much professional information about themselves as they see pertinent. LinkedIn creates a profile composed of an individual’s professional history, education, and achievements. Similar to a resume, but in an online format, LinkedIn allows other individuals to review your professional endeavors and education. Through LinkedIn, users potentially are more able to find jobs, locate other individuals in their field of study, and discover business and volunteer opportunities. Especially for college students, LinkedIn can be a viable way to make professional connections, search for internships or positions in one’s desired career path, and make connections with other professionals who can give valuable advice or guidance for the future.

Getting the most out of LinkedIn:

The feature that most individuals see on LinkedIn is your picture, name, and professional headline. Since most attention is placed on these three elements, they should be strategically created to help emphasize your field of study and strengths. While a professional headshot is ideal, professional photographers can be expensive to hire. The LinkedIn picture does not need to be taken by a professional but it should be a professional-looking headshot. The professional headline should be crafted to include keywords related to your field of study/work. These keywords can help other professionals find your profile and explore your experiences and strengths. This 120 character opportunity can be used as a mini pitch to quickly showcase your area of expertise and skill set.

Since LinkedIn allows users to compile a profile with sections ranging from education experience, publications, projects, interests, and many more, as much of the profile should be filled out as possible to utilize the ability to display abilities and interests to other professionals. Putting skills and accomplishments on LinkedIn is a way for others to recognize your strengths and reach out when jobs or projects seem relevant. Some of these sections include adding a professional profile picture of oneself and even, if one chooses, adding a cover photo that will be displayed behind the profile. With the ability to include summaries, experiences, and educational history, these allow the user to demonstrate and expand on their qualifications and professional achievements. Some of these sections are education, contact information, professional industry, volunteer experiences, and certifications. Completing all the LinkedIn sections allows individuals to both keep track of their experiences and accomplishments in their life, and also helps showcase these talents and skills to other individuals. But remember, do not just throw down quick information to complete each section. Instead, think strategically about word choice and the way you want to communicate your information to others.

Once the profile is up and running, it is time to make connections. By adding connections with other individuals, others will be able to see and explore your profile. When adding connections,  some individuals add anyone to increase their connection numbers.  Others prefer to make connections only with individuals whom they personally know. If one simply has hundreds of connections but does not take advantage of what these connections could offer, it defeats the purpose. Connections help individuals stay in contact with old classmates, colleagues or friends, make professional connections for future jobs, receive advice from others in their field of study, and share information among groups. With the email address used to create a LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn will automatically suggest connections to individuals in your email list who have a LinkedIn account with that similar email. One can also look for connections by searching for their name, a company name, a specific industry, or a school name. There are so many benefits that LinkedIn provides, but it is up to the individual to leverage how best to take advantage of these features.

LinkedIn also allows individuals to create a custom URL to their profile. The URL that comes with a profile is normally a group of random letters and numbers. In just a couple of minutes, one can create a custom URL, such as his/her name. If the name is already taken, one can try to add a middle initial or add his/her middle name completely. Also, one way to get involved on LinkedIn is through groups. Individuals can join professional groups which share information or advice among members, and post or search for jobs. Groups allow individuals to communicate between one another and to expand their knowledge. It is a great way to meet new individuals and make new connections. Anyone with a LinkedIn profile can create a group that can be customized to the topic they are interested in. LinkedIn provides a free service, but it also has an option for individuals to pay for more features. For college students, the free version of LinkedIn is a great way to put together an online resume, but also get a start exploring the professional world for after graduation.

LinkedIn for Carroll University Students:

In addition, LinkedIn has a feature called “find alumni”. This feature allows one to look for alumni that attended their same university. After selecting this tab, a page is brought up with all the alumni and that can be sorted by their college concentrations, current area living, interests, skills or current job placement.  This feature allows one to see where your peers are currently living in the world and how they are using their skills in their career paths. Also, individuals can look at other professionals’ profiles to get tips and advice on opportunities alumni pursued to obtain jobs or even possible organizations to could work for. The find alumni tools is a great starting point to explore possible career options, connect with alumni that share similar interests, or get inspiration for volunteer activities or clubs to join while still at the university.

LinkedIn is very beneficial for business purposes. One may want to find a job sooner than the usual applying to multiple different places. One is able to put just his/her information out on this website and have others looking for them. Their information is on there just as if their resume would be. People are able to look up certain students, adults, business partners, etc. on LinkedIn and possibly find someone they could potentially hire for a position they have opening for at their business. Also, LinkedIn is very useful in connecting with others you may have known from a past job experience, high school, college, etc.”

What advise would you give Alison and my other students —soon about to enter the work force —about how they will be using or should be using LinkedIn? What features of it are they likely to learn about only while on the job? How will there world change in terms of access and use of social media tools?

Carroll UniversityCarroll University USACurious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsPSY205

Psychology 205 Resources: Quizlet, StarQuiz, Research Randomizer, and SPSS.

I have come to believe that a syllabus should be a dynamic learning tool. To that end on the first day of class I randomly select some students to download my syllabus. Using the classroom projection system, they explore in the syllabus embedded links to such things as a paper I wrote about how I teach and they begin using a tool (Research Randomizer) for drawing random samples and for randomly assigning participants to conditions.

Here is the syllabus I use in my PSY205 “Statistics and Experimental Design Course.”

my.carrollu.edu

MY.CARROLLU.EDU
How useful do you find these links? How might they be improved?

I am moving towards requiring that all my students demonstrate to me minimal mastery of my technology enhanced teaching and the learning tools which I introduce into the classroom.

Here is an example of a Quizlet benchmark: Example 1: Quizlet.

Here are two examples of StarQuiz benchmarks:  Example 1:  Starquiz  and Example 2:  StarQuiz.

How helpful are these links? How might they be improved?

I also am increasingly incorporating screencasts made by me (or by my students) into the class as additional instructional support—especially as I teach SPSS. Though I realize that there are an abundance of such resources on YouTube (and even on LinkedIn!), I still see some value in my personally producing them (or having my students do so).

Here are some screen casts that Simpson research assistants Tia and Ariana made for me to demonstrate their mastery of using screen casting software tools:

And here is one of my SPSS screen casts made at home with the help of Leo the Dog:

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Should I continue to produce these even though their production quality may not be “professional”?

 

 


Curious David

A Benevolent Curmudgeon and a Bright Emerging Star Reflect on LinkedIn: Revised

 

David (AKA The Benevolent Curmudgeon):

dscn4331In several prior posts about my experiences with LinkedIn, I have pondered and sought advice about how someone like me (with one foot in academe and the other in the business world) might most profit from and contribute to LinkedIn. Since those postings, I have joined several linked in groups, explored some of LinkedIn’s premium features such “learning”( aka Lynda.com), looked at the usefulness of SlideShare (here is a recent posting there by Jane Hart), participated in some LinkedIn surveys by becoming a member of the “LinkedIn Premium Insiders Community, selectively and systematically expanded my network, subscribed to RSS feeds, explored using hashtags for my postings, and read and responded to a number of posts. I have found particularly rewarding the good work of Maya Pope-Chappell, Education and millennial Editor of LinkedIn. She writes well and has championed efforts 1) to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas from higher education and the business world and 2) to increase opportunities for involvement by college students. See, for example, her Lynda.com screencast targeted for college and university students about how to write for LinkedIn.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/d8vf8airyda43v5/Screenshot%202016-11-01%2008.49.23.png?dl=0

Things I dislike about LinkedIn:

  • I still find the “post publishing platform” primitive and user-unfriendly—inferior to that of WordPress (though far superior to Yammer’s). My work-around has been to write LinkedIn blog pieces (targeted for a LinkedIn audience)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/b2obhsgxng35jbg/Screenshot%202016-11-01%2009.12.20.png?dl=0
on another platform and then migrate them.

  • I find many of the articles far two “formulaic” for my taste: Promises of THE “seven”proven ways to increase my (fill in the buzzword). [I’ve ranted written about my love distaste  thoughts about “buzzwords” here and here.]
  • I get annoyed by my inability to read some articles that look interesting to me unless I turn off my ad blockers or “white list” the target website.

For a refreshingly “non peevish” take on LinkedIn, I invited one of my research assistants, Alison Lehman who is quite knowledgable about LinkedIn (she wrote about it in her first book) to share here present perspective about it. She is most enthusiastic about it even as she approaches the time of her university graduation. I, as always, learned a few things from her.

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Rapidly growing and expanding, LinkedIn is an online, social networking site for individuals to connect with other professionals and post their professional accomplishments, experiences, and volunteer activities. With the technological advances that exist today, employers are not only looking at an individual’s hard copy resume but they are also turning to LinkedIn to put a face to the name, as well as seeing how the individual presents themselves online. LinkedIn is an interactive website to compile education history, past experiences, skills, interests, completed projects, and various other professional expertise; pretty much an online resume for others to see. With connecting and providing experiences, this opens the door to future jobs and valuable professional relationships. Creating a LinkedIn profile can help grow connections in the business world and displays qualifications and experience for jobs.

Getting Started:

To create a LinkedIn profile, an individual can go to the LinkedIn website and create their profile with an email address and password. An individual is then prompted to insert information about themselves, such as a brief autobiography, past education experience, and professional work history. Additionally, information can be entered about volunteer experiences or  organizations’ they care about, institutions they are affiliated with, certifications received, and a list of personal skills. LinkedIn will then organize all of the information into an organized profile page. The user can customize where each section of information will fall (e.g. either at the top of the profile or farther down). Other individuals can also endorse the skills you have listed on your profile. This feature is a quick way for connections to validate that the individual is well qualified in the skills they have listed.

Users are able to create an online profile with as much professional information about themselves as they see pertinent. LinkedIn creates a profile composed of an individual’s professional history, education, and achievements. Similar to a resume, but in an online format, LinkedIn allows other individuals to review your professional endeavors and education. Through LinkedIn, users potentially are more able to find jobs, locate other individuals in their field of study, and discover business and volunteer opportunities. Especially for college students, LinkedIn can be a viable way to make professional connections, search for internships or positions in one’s desired career path, and make connections with other professionals who can give valuable advice or guidance for the future.

Getting the most out of LinkedIn:

The feature that most individuals see on LinkedIn is your picture, name, and professional headline. Since most attention is placed on these three elements, they should be strategically created to help emphasize your field of study and strengths. While a professional headshot is ideal, professional photographers can be expensive to hire. The LinkedIn picture does not need to be taken by a professional but it should be a professional-looking headshot. The professional headline should be crafted to include keywords related to your field of study/work. These keywords can help other professionals find your profile and explore your experiences and strengths. This 120 character opportunity can be used as a mini pitch to quickly showcase your area of expertise and skill set.

Since LinkedIn allows users to compile a profile with sections ranging from education experience, publications, projects, interests, and many more, as much of the profile should be filled out as possible to utilize the ability to display abilities and interests to other professionals. Putting skills and accomplishments on LinkedIn is a way for others to recognize your strengths and reach out when jobs or projects seem relevant. Some of these sections include adding a professional profile picture of oneself and even, if one chooses, adding a cover photo that will be displayed behind the profile. With the ability to include summaries, experiences, and educational history, these allow the user to demonstrate and expand on their qualifications and professional achievements. Some of these sections are education, contact information, professional industry, volunteer experiences, and certifications. Completing all the LinkedIn sections allows individuals to both keep track of their experiences and accomplishments in their life, and also helps showcase these talents and skills to other individuals. But remember, do not just throw down quick information to complete each section. Instead, think strategically about word choice and the way you want to communicate your information to others.

Once the profile is up and running, it is time to make connections. By adding connections with other individuals, others will be able to see and explore your profile. When adding connections,  some individuals add anyone to increase their connection numbers.  Others prefer to make connections only with individuals whom they personally know. If one simply has hundreds of connections but does not take advantage of what these connections could offer, it defeats the purpose. Connections help individuals stay in contact with old classmates, colleagues or friends, make professional connections for future jobs, receive advice from others in their field of study, and share information among groups. With the email address used to create a LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn will automatically suggest connections to individuals in your email list who have a LinkedIn account with that similar email. One can also look for connections by searching for their name, a company name, a specific industry, or a school name. There are so many benefits that LinkedIn provides, but it is up to the individual to leverage how best to take advantage of these features.

LinkedIn also allows individuals to create a custom URL to their profile. The URL that comes with a profile is normally a group of random letters and numbers. In just a couple of minutes, one can create a custom URL, such as his/her name. If the name is already taken, one can try to add a middle initial or add his/her middle name completely. Also, one way to get involved on LinkedIn is through groups. Individuals can join professional groups which share information or advice among members, and post or search for jobs. Groups allow individuals to communicate between one another and to expand their knowledge. It is a great way to meet new individuals and make new connections. Anyone with a LinkedIn profile can create a group that can be customized to the topic they are interested in. LinkedIn provides a free service, but it also has an option for individuals to pay for more features. For college students, the free version of LinkedIn is a great way to put together an online resume, but also get a start exploring the professional world for after graduation.

LinkedIn for Carroll University Students:

In addition, LinkedIn has a feature called “find alumni”. This feature allows one to look for alumni that attended their same university. After selecting this tab, a page is brought up with all the alumni and that can be sorted by their college concentrations, current area living, interests, skills or current job placement.  This feature allows one to see where your peers are currently living in the world and how they are using their skills in their career paths. Also, individuals can look at other professionals’ profiles to get tips and advice on opportunities alumni pursued to obtain jobs or even possible organizations to could work for. The find alumni tools is a great starting point to explore possible career options, connect with alumni that share similar interests, or get inspiration for volunteer activities or clubs to join while still at the university.

LinkedIn is very beneficial for business purposes. One may want to find a job sooner than the usual applying to multiple different places. One is able to put just his/her information out on this website and have others looking for them. Their information is on there just as if their resume would be. People are able to look up certain students, adults, business partners, etc. on LinkedIn and possibly find someone they could potentially hire for a position they have opening for at their business. Also, LinkedIn is very useful in connecting with others you may have known from a past job experience, high school, college, etc.

alumniBloggingCarroll College WaukeshaCarroll ReflectionsCarroll University

And So It Begins….

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I usually arrive on campus to an empty parking lot. Today was no exception despite the road construction, school buses, and famous Waukesha trains.

The construction workers are already hard at work completing the new science building. New students adorned in their new tee shirts are exploring the campus making sure that they can find their classrooms.

An early morning phone call to ITS is quite successful both in resolving some traditional first of semester computer issues and in renewing some friendships. Daniel will be starting his 20th year here. Chris is a Carroll graduate. Both exemplify the authenticity in my belief that Carroll Cares.

Much mundane to accomplish today before the Cubs game. I hope to get a lot of serious writing done this year, but that block of time will not be available today.

Several of my student assistants have threatened promised to stop by. As I’ve written many times I’ve been blessed across the years with over 50 superb student assistants. It is fun and rewarding learning together. They keep me young(er). Tomorrow, rain or shine, I’ll answer the call of the bagpiper as the new freshman class is introduced to the Carroll academic world.

Thanks to all you alumni for sharing via LinkedIn and Facebook your responses to my earlier blog posts of this year. It’s nice knowing that I have a reader or two:)

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Curious David

Adventures in Dr. Simpson’s Neighborhood: Four Reasons Why I Continue to Teach

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Some of my most joyful teaching moments occur outside the classroom playfully interacting with my student research assistants. Today as I experimented with teaching capabilities of Vimeo and YouTube I invited two members of my research team to join me briefly to help me test the Voila Screencasting application. Our shared laughter is invigorating.

And here is the wisdom of my other youthful team members. They provide me many positive Carroll learning moments!

Team2016b



Curious Davidelearning

Heartfelt thanks to all my teachers I have never personally met—and one in particular


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Winding up; winding down. As I shoveled cleaned out  organized books, folders, software, and files in my office today I came across materials from the First-Year Seminar “Pioneering Web 2.0 Learning Tools” I taught to 25 freshmen in the Fall of 2008. To toss or not to toss—that is the question. I ultimately rejected Marie Kondo’s advice.

It’s fascinating to see how technology tools have evolved since 2008. My electing to teach that course was based upon the positive learning experiences I had for a year blogging for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That’s where I met you, Pamela Gustafson—once, in person! You helped me bridge the Kindergarten to Higher Education gap.

Without doubt my most formative and informative learning about blogging and internet learning tools came from someone I have never personally met but to whom I am eternally indebted—the indefatigable, ubiquitous, Friend and Colleague across the pond Jane Hart. I urge all my readers to visit her web site on a regular basis and avail yourself of the rich resources.

As I re-examine my  teaching, writing, and personal professional development records  across the past 1o years  I time and again find ample, wide-ranging evidence of her constructive impact on what I know, how I teach, how I learn, and how I consult. Thank you, Jane Hart. My research students and I will be dedicating our student guides to you for your profound influence upon us.

—David

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alumniCurious Davidflow

On “Flow,” “Presence,” “Self-Actualization” and Constructive Mania

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I seem to be having an unusually productive day today. I am in a state of “Flow, “Presence,—self-actualization? I seem to be fully charged even though Leo the Great

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and I went outside at 2:00 a.m. and awakened together at 5:00 a.m. I wish I could identify why!:)

Perhaps it is due to my having a large amount of reasonably uninterrupted time.  Each interruption that occurred was a positive experience. Four students came by the office for some additional help before the exam. Four students walked away seemingly more knowledgeable and more confident. A gem of a student assistant came by to squeeze in an hour’s work,in her busy schedule, and we discussed the next steps of our book. She and the other three talented students are working so well together—- and with me–challenging and supporting each other. They continually delight, refresh, and invigorate me as we learn, laugh, and grow together.

My personal software and learning tools are for the moment working flawlessly across the many different platforms (Mac OS X  11 .3 and Windows 7) and browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox) that I use on a daily basis. My student research team alluded to above skillfully shares their work with me via Google Drive and I move and “sync my work across Google Drive, DropBox, EverNote, and my journaling software DayOne.

We’ve arranged for tomorrow two Skype sessions–one session with a dear friend in London (or are you in Bavaria or Kurgan at the moment???) and another in Hungary. I renewed my Skype accounts. Feel free to Skype me at professordsimpson but I need to know of your intent in advance. I still have a “day job.”

On days like this I love being a professor. I’ll miss this.

Time to head home and be walked by the dog.


alumniCarroll UniversityCurious DavidGlobalJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Tools

Curious David Revisits His Global Outreach Attempts

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Screenshot 2016-02-10 09.51.02

It’s past time for a more systematic global outreach by me and my students. Today I met briefly with some visitors from China. I wished them a Happy New Year of the Monkey. Then I began setting up some “Skype” dates with family and friends in London, Madagascar, Hungary, and Switzerland. I’d love to reconnect with Reidar (are you in Norway or Spain?), Inci (are you still teaching in Turkey?), Irma (we’ve lost touch since our conversations from beautiful Lithuania), Simone in Costa Rica, Anna in Kenya and Miguel Luis in La Mancha, Spain—his blog is marvelous. If you would put me in touch with your Antarctica bride’s maid friend, Emily, I would have reached out to all continents:).

Alison and Lizzy are focused on developing a student guide to Skype. Here are my latest marching orders to them:

Here is their draft in progress. How might it be improved?

Technology is continually improving and changing the way the world interacts with one another. Schools are starting to go from hard cover textbooks to textbooks that are completely online. Other resources that schools utilize are programs that allow students to continue practicing and understanding concepts through online homework and additional help online. Many schools, even at the elementary level, require students to have their own computer in the classroom. With this increase in the usage of technology, face-to-face interactions are suffering due to the ease of using email, cell phones, and social media sites to interact with one another.

Skype is a learning tool that utilizes the world of technology while also incorporating face-to-face interactions with other individuals across the world. In our scenario, Dr. Simpson has used Skype to interact with individuals from other countries for business and education purposes. Additionally, the student research team has interacted with Skype inside and outside of the classroom.

For example, Alison has used Skype in the classroom when teachers wanted to bring in guest speakers. Sometimes these speakers are unavailable to drive or fly to that specific location because they may live halfway across the world or do not have the resources to pay for the trip. By using Skype, guest speakers from Qatar, Africa, and different states were able to present and bring insightful information into the classroom.

From a business point of view, Skype can be used to hold group meetings. For example, if a group of individuals need to get together to interact about plans, presentation details, or other business related aspects, but cannot all be at the same place at the same time, Skype can provide the solution. Skype allows individuals to make group audio calls up to 25 individuals and video calls with up to 10 individuals from anywhere in the world. The video call option is limited though to 100 hours per month, 10 hours per day, and 4 hours per video chat.

Some of the platforms you can access Skype on are computers, cell phones, home phones, tablets, televisions, and video game systems. With having a free account from Skype, one can send messages to one another, simply make voice calls, or hold video chats with individuals from anywhere in the world. Also, one can use the option of screen sharing which allows one to view the other person’s screen. With the new chat feature on Skype, one is able to share files and photos. The files can also be shared while the video chatting feature is being used. With the free version of Skype, an individual can text mobile phones or call landline phones at reasonable rates. To pay for these additional rates, Skype allows one to pay through many different options that may be unique to each country.

To access more features, one can purchase Skype Business. The Skype Business rate starts at $2.00 a month per user. Some of the features of Skype Business that the free version is unable to access are that an individual can video chat with up to 250 people. Also, Skype Business allows you to schedule meetings outside of work in Outlook.

Through the technology of Skype, individuals are able to utilize Skype in the classroom, for personal use, and business.

GOTTA RUN TO GIVE MY FIRST EXAMS OF THE SEMESTER.

Anyone thoughts or experience with Skype would be much appreciated. Thank you.

App GenerationCamtasiaCurious DavidScreencastingScreenflow

In Search of the “Best” Screencasting Software

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When I am especially busy, I encourage my student research team to use their creativity to surprise me. Here is their preliminary work for an ebook we are writing that will give student guides to software we are using. I am delighted by their work. For other guides to Screencasting tools see the excellent compilation by Richard Byrne and his Free Technology for Teachers blog.

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As a student research team for Dr. Simpson we always try to find the best software to use on the task at hand  which allows us to be most efficient and successful. Here we are going to compare three different screencasting tools we have become familiar with over the past few weeks: ScreenFlow, Voila, and Camtasia. All have the same purpose, but have differences. Which screen casting tool is best for you depends on the type of screen cast you want to make.We will show you screen casting examples from each of the different softwares.

When we used Voila to create a tutorial on how to use SurveyMonkey, we realized we were missing some necessary additional software. Without the additional software we could not hear our voice recording in our video. As a work-around solution we converted our video into ScreenFlow. To resolve the problematic issue with Voila,  Tia, Arianna, and Dr. Simpson later downloaded the necessary additional software which automatically presented itself upon our request to record using a microphone. Once this software was installed we ran a trial video in order to ensure sound could be heard. Success, at last. Having discovered how to properly use Voila, Dr. Simpson asked his research team to make a video in order to compare Voila to the video made using ScreenFlow.

Voila is a great screen casting software that can be downloaded on your iMac, iPhone, and iPad. Since Evernote is getting rid of the software, Skitch, this new feature was created in place of it with more features that are very beneficial.

When using this app you are able to take a screen shot of your full home screen, or capture a certain section of your home screen with the different screen shot tools. You are also able to overlap multiple screenshots in the software as well. In addition, if you would like to record your voice or anything on the computer while using the device you are able to do a recording. After you have taken the recording, it will open up in Voila and you can trim your new video and have the recording play over the screen casting. One flaw of Voila, is that you must download an additional app to have noise with your recording. You also need to export your recording to an app like Imovie to complete and edit your recording.

Voila allows you to edit your screen shots in multiple different ways. Some really nice features that Skitch doesn’t have is that you are able to add stickers to your screen shots as well as add a spotlight to a certain part of the screen shot. The spotlight helps a section you select stand out and blur out the rest of the background of the screen shot as much as you would like. Another feature that you are able to do that Skitch can’t is blur out in different ways. You can do motion blurs, the static blur, a pixelated blur, and etc. Also, there are different kinds of arrows you can use in Voila to lead someone from one spot of your screen cast to another to show them instructions, like where to go from point A to point B, and etc. Voila allows you to marquee the pictures as well. This means that with any of the shapes they have or what you create, you are able to put that shape on a certain part of the screen shot and duplicate it. So that part you’ve chosen can be more bolded, or put in another screen shot. Below is an example of the different effects and borders that Voila has available to us.

Below is the video we started out by using Voila, but turned to using ScreenFlow.

ScreenFlow is one of the first screencasting tools we have used as a team since the the announcement of Skitch being discontinued.  ScreenFlow is the most simple screen casting tool out of the three when you are directly recording. When creating your screen cast, you can have as many or few screens open while you are recording. There are also options to have a window showing you creating your recording as well. ScreenFlow is primarily used for Mac users whereas Voila and Camtasia can be used on many different types of computers. The best way to start and end your videos in ScreenFlow is by using shortkeys, which holds true to Voila and Camtasia as well.

In addition, Voila has many perks to it. Instead of just creating screen casting recordings, you can also create snap shots of your screen. They have many editing options for both photos and videos. With your photos, you can edit both your screen shots as well as photos in your library. Voila has the best organization for your photos and screen casting videos you create. They have many folders you can organize your creations into with easy access to all. One cool thing you can do is while in Voila, there is a button where you can go on the web. In reality, you do not even need to leave the application to take screenshots of a certain webpage you would like to add to your screencast, which also helps maintaining organization.

Camtasia is more similiar to Voila in complexity of the software. While using Camtasia, it is more used for the video aspects of screen casting. You can add many different types of transitions or textboxes as you go. One cool thing with the different transitions is that you can have them fade in and out at any time frame in your screen cast. This helps create a more exciting and organized screen cast. One thing that Camtasia has that neither Voila or ScreenFlow has is the ability to layer both videos and pictures into one screen cast. Also, Camtasia is accessible on either Macs or PCs. Camtasia allows one to film a video using their software, which will then automatically be accessible to edit. One does not have to save the video and download it to another software to edit.

On the upper left hand side of Camtasia, there are the categories Media, Annotations, Transitions, and Animations. The Media button allows one to access all the videos filmed using Camtasia or download videos saved onto the computer. Under the Annotations tab, text bubbles, arrows, shapes, highlight, symbols, or keyboard keys are located and can be added to the video. Theses options come in multiple different colors which can be adjusted on the video to be different sizes and in different locations on the video. The Transitions tab allows one to add effects at the beginning or the end of a video. Animations can also be added to the video to zoom in or zoom out, fade in or out, tilt left or right, and even create a custom animation. As a side note, if one applies the zoom in feature, to return to the way the video was originally, a zoom out animation must be applied.

The other features that one can apply to the video are Video FX, Audio FX, Cursor FX, and Gesture FX. To change the color of the screen, add a glow to the screen, add a device frame around the video, and many more are features that are located under the Video FX tab. Audio FX allows one to change the volume of the video, the pitch, reduce the background noise, and change the speed of the clip. Cursor FX will highlight, magnify, or spotlight where the cursor is throughout the video. One can also highlight right or left clicks that are made using the computer mouse during the video. Under the Gesture FX tab, one can double tap, pinch, swipe, and tap certain areas during the video.

Each of these features can be customized to show up for different lengths and times throughout the video. Camtasia has two lines of recordings on the bottom lines to edit. The first line is the Webcam recording while the second line is the video of the screen. If you want to add an effect to the entire video, such as a transition, the effect needs to be added to both lines.

We would appreciate any feedback or personal experience using Camtasia or any video editing software.